Media Takes Low Road by Pitting Children Against Their Parents to Promote Vaccines

Media Takes Low Road by Pitting Children Against Their Parents to Promote Vaccines

The news headlines are awash with the story of 18-year-old Ethan Lindenberger of Norwalk, Ohio who, upon turning 18, decided to publicly criticize his mother for not giving him every government recommended vaccine when he was a child. A disagreement between a mother and her son turned into a media circus when Ethan publicly celebrated his 18th birthday by calling his parents “kind of stupid” and getting vaccinated. His name has appeared in articles in major newspapers such as The Washington Post and USA Today and magazines such as People. He has been interviewed on television by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and on radio by NPR’s Scott Simon. And that’s just for starters.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Almost overnight, Ethan became a media star and achieved Andy Warhol’s so-called “15 minutes of fame.” Many mainstream journalists and news commentators are still lining up to interview and quote Ethan about his views on vaccination. But if you look at the news headlines, there is a troubling theme that emerges which has nothing to do with the teenager’s knowledge about the subject of vaccination and health.

The sensationalist headlines focus almost exclusively on the son’s disapproval, defiance and very public rebellion against his “anti-vaxxer” mother, leading one to question whether media hounds are actually interested in what Ethan thinks or are merely using him as a foil to attack parents who are legitimately concerned about protecting their children from vaccine reactions. Is the media making Ethan the adult poster child for teenage rebellion against parents as an excuse to demonize any mother or father who becomes educated about diseases and vaccines and concludes that one-size-fits-all vaccine schedules recommended by public health officials and medical trade groups will not protect the health of their child?1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

USA Today headline reads, “Son defies mom, chooses to get vaccinated at 18: ‘God knows how I’m still alive’.” A similar headline in People magazine reads, “Ohio Teen Chooses to Get Vaccinated in Defiance of His Anti-Vaxx Parents: ‘God Knows How I’m Still Alive’.” The headline in The Washington Post reads, “Unvaccinated teens are fact-checking their parents—and trying to get shots on their own.”5 7 8

The underlying implication of headlines such as these is that Ethan came to his senses and realized that his mother was just ignorant and had been endangering his life by not vaccinating him. In fact, two of the more popular quotes from Ethan used in articles about this story are, “My parents are kind of stupid” and “God knows how I’m still alive.”1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Interestingly, nobody thought to ask Ethan about the state of his health throughout his childhood. Was he a healthy baby? Had he been a healthy boy growing up? Was there a personal or family history of brain or immune system disorders or reactions to vaccines? Which of the infectious diseases for which vaccines are available did he think he probably would have died from because he was unvaccinated?

It is also fascinating to observe the degree to which the media is characterizing 18-year-old Ethan as an expert on vaccination while painting his mother, Jill Wheeler, as just another uninformed “anti-vaxxer.” Ethan is automatically accorded respect and the benefit of the doubt that he knows what he’s talking about, while his mother clearly is not.

Where did Ethan get his information about vaccine safety and effectiveness? Most likely he got it from the Internet. The same place most everyone goes—including a lot of reporters, legislators and even health care professionals. The difference is that Ethan came to a different conclusion than his mother did.  This should come as no great surprise to anyone with teenage children subjected to peer pressure that can contribute to a great deal of tension between parents and children, just like the tension that apparently developed between Ethan and his mother when he realized that most or all of his friends were vaccinated and he was not. Peer pressure that made him feel like the oddball teen?5

However, some of the media articles about this story have suggested that the real reason Ethan and his mother differ on the issue of vaccination is that Ethan has looked at and understands “the science” and his mother does not. An article in The Washington Post published the following quote from Allison Winnike, president and chief executive of the Texas-based vaccine advocacy group Immunization Partnership, who commented on the story about Ethan and his Mom and made a global statement:

This generation of unvaccinated children coming of age has looked at the science and want to protect themselves.5

The assumption here is that the science about vaccine safety and effectiveness is clear and is settled. But it is that very assumption that is at the core of the growing debate on vaccination. It is a tug of war between those who believe scientific knowledge is a relatively static body of knowledge with a beginning and an endpoint and those who view scientific knowledge as a fluid learning process that is constantly evolving and uncovering new insights.12 13

In an article for The Vaccine Reaction in 2017, I wrote that science “evolves through the process of uncensored inquiry, debate and dissent, challenge and rechallenge, experimentation and discovery. The same is true for the science of vaccination.”14

In a CBS Morning News interview with Ethan and his mother, Dr. Tara Narula noted that Ethan “showed his parents scientific studies that showed vaccines were safe and effective, but his mother remained unconvinced.”11 Ethan’s mother Jill Wheeler told Dr. Narula that she was concerned about vaccine risks and wanted to protect her son from a vaccine reaction. “It was just straight up fear of him getting these immunizations and having a bad reaction,” she said. “I think a lot of people look at this as a straight, black and white answer, and I don’t feel like it is.”11

Ethan’s Mom went on to defend her son, clearly because she loves him. She said, “I’m very proud of him for standing for what he believes in, even if it is against what I believe. He’s a good boy.”11

Uncensored inquiry, debate and dissent, challenge and rechallenge is the hallmark of good science and it is the hallmark of a society that values freedom of thought, speech and conscience. That is precisely what has occurred not only in Ethan Lindenberger’s family but is occurring in families across the U.S. and around the world as more people become better educated about vaccination and health. Sadly, that is what the media has neglected to acknowledge in its coverage of this story.

Shamefully, most media outlets are opting instead to pit children against parents for the purpose of adding fuel to what is becoming a very uncivil and one-sided  public conversation about vaccine policy in this country.


References:

1 Braine T. Teen gets vaccinated, rebelling against anti-vaxxer mom. New York Daily News Feb. 11, 2019.
2 Cooper A. Teen opts to get vaccinated despite mother’s objection. CNN Feb. 12, 2019.
3 Chiaramonte P. Anti-vaxxer revolt grows on Reddit among teens. Fox News Feb. 12, 2019.
4 Folley A. Teen defies parents, gets first vaccinations during measles outbreaks in US. The Hill Feb. 9, 2019.
5 Horton A. Unvaccinated teens are fact-checking their parents—and trying to get shots on their own. The Washington Post Feb. 11, 2019.
6 Johnson J. His Mom Is an Anti-Vaxxer. At 18, He Got His Shots. Newser Feb. 12, 2019.
7 May A. Son defies mom, chooses to get vaccinated at 18: ‘God knows how I’m still alive’. USA Today Feb. 12, 2019.
8 Mazziotta J. Ohio Teen Chooses to Get Vaccinated in Defiance of His Anti-Vaxx Parents: ‘God Knows How I’m Still Alive’. People Feb. 11, 2019.
9 Morris A. Defying Parents, A Teen Decides To Get Vaccinated, NPR Feb. 9, 2019.
10 Pesce NL. Anti-vaxxer kids are rebelling against their parents by vaccinating themselves. MarketWatch Feb. 11, 2019.
11 CBS This Morning. Ohio teen defies mother and gets vaccinated after turning to strangers online. CBS News Feb. 12, 2019.
12 Cáceres M. Harvard Medical School Doctor: Vaccine Science is Not Settled. The Vaccine Reaction Aug. 18, 2018.
13 Raines K. The Vaccine Science is Unsettled. The Vaccine Reaction Jan. 25, 2017.
14 Cáceres M. Yes, Vaccination is 18th Century Science. The Vaccine Reaction Dec. 12, 2017.

18 Responses to "Media Takes Low Road by Pitting Children Against Their Parents to Promote Vaccines"

  1. redpill   February 13, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    I have read this story on multiple websites and it sickens me. What sickens me more is the comment sections of those blogs that are carrying this propaganda. The level of ignorance among the masses in the US is stunning. First of all the articles/propaganda do not talk about vaccine safety, effectiveness or vaccine failure. The articles are completely devoid of any discussion about the science other than saying that the science is settled. In my opinion the most frightening four words in science are:

    THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED.

    This mantra is only chanted when it comes to vaccines. No where else in the scientific universe does this apply. Why? Here is what Kevin Pho, MD, of KevinMD.com says:

    A reminder that science is never settled: Science is in a constant state of flux. Theories are put forth to explain natural phenomena, based on the best knowledge of the day. These theories are tested. If they correctly predict future observations, the theories become more credible. If, however, these theories fail to predict accurately, they require modification or outright dismissal.

    What is considered “settled science” one day may be turned upside down the next day as new data comes to light. At one time, it was “settled” that the sun and stars revolved around the earth and that the earth was flat. As science advanced and new data was gathered, these “settled” theories were scrapped.

    I think about Doctors prior to 1847 not washing their hands before they delivered babies and how one Doctor- Ignaz Semmelweis discovered that the rate of women dying of childbirth fever decreased when Doctors washed their hands before delivery. He had a lecture that stated to Doctors: Wash Your Hands. BUT-because he pointed out the reality of hygiene- a flaw, before handling patients, cut down on deaths, his colleagues took umbrage with him for pointing out that they were causing the deaths of these women because of their behavior, he was fired from his job and eventually ended up in a mental institution. This story kind of parallels what has happened to Dr. Wakefield, Dr. Zimmerman, Dr. Ken Walker, or any other doctor that speaks out opposing the governments agenda on mandatory vaccines.

    What I also find odd is the media reporting always manage to find people to interview that are ill equipped to provide the necessary knowledge and push back from the pro-vaccine propaganda. I recently watched a video where the reporter got owned by the Dr. Toni Bark who she thought she could sandbag with questioned about vaccines. It was marvelous to watch:
    -Holistic MD decimates prominent BBC reporter in measles debate https://www.healthnutnews.com/holistic-md-decimates-prominent-bbc-reporter-in-measles-debate/

    These are the people the government is terrified to allow the public to hear from.
    Why won’t the CDC allow the media to interview powerful and informed accredited MD’s? Because they know the vaccine science is bogus. The fact that they would parade an ignorant child (yes I said ignorant because he is) on TV and pit him against his Mother. Allow him to say his parents are kind of stupid -shouldn’t surprise anyone. The CDC/Pharma and the government are pulling out all the stops and have been flooding the media with their propaganda since the Flu season began. This tells us a couple of things: Flu shot uptake must be down. Other countries are not making vaccines mandatory and that’s going public. Parents are heavily pushing back considering what happened in California. Parents are also waking up to the reality that the autism rate is 1 child in 38 among boys and 1 in 152 among girls. They are also looking at the fact that children in America are among the sickest in the world. The only thing the government isn’t looking into is vaccines as a possible contributor and they are asking why. American children are in kind of a paradox.
    Children in American are the most vaccinated in the world which is supposed to keep them from getting sick. They are the sickest in the world because they are the most vaccinated in the world which is actually making them sick.

    American Children Compared to Rest of World: Among Sickest and Most Vaccinated https://healthimpactnews.com/2017/american-children-compared-to-rest-of-world-among-sickest-and-most-vaccinated/

    Reply
  2. Judy Dragon   February 14, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    This piece is a complete media propaganda ploy and staging. Ethan is a social media strategist. His mother, Jill Wheeler, is in on this theatrical conspiracy. She is a theater owner. Together they planned this.

    Ethan switched to a new FB account on December 2018. He still has his other one.

    His mother posted her first anti vax article on February 10th, 2019 without making a comment.

    Ethan has written a book and is looking for a publisher. One of the stories is about teenagers getting vaccinated against their parents’ wishes. He made fiction come to life so he’d get his book published.

    Reply
    • Kathleen Egbert   February 16, 2019 at 5:19 am

      Would love to know how you know/conclude this. It is certainly more believable than a real “anti-vax” mother praising her son for standing up for what he believes in.
      Vaccination should be about facts, not beliefs. A society that replaces facts with beliefs will make some serious errors.

      Reply
    • redpill   February 16, 2019 at 6:46 pm

      Could you please provide links to where you got this information. I listened to a radio show where Jill Wheeler was interviewed and she came off as legit. If she isn’t it would be good to exposed the con.

      Special Guest – Jill Wheeler – Mother of Ohio Teen Who Got Vaccinated Against Her Wishes-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-sbvGgK48A
      -Jill Wheeler, mother of the Ohio teen whose “vaccine defiance” went viral online and in the media, joined us to explain her side of the story that the media didn’t want you to hear.

      Reply
  3. Suzie homemaker   February 15, 2019 at 12:10 am

    My thought well reading is.. is this all staged because the parents are real pro vac. Set up to push vac. I wouldnt put it past them.

    Reply
  4. Patricia P Tursi, Ph.D.   February 15, 2019 at 12:11 am

    To hear a young man call his parents stupid on national tv elicited compassion for his parents whose government is lying & discrediting them & irritation with the son wirh his lack of respect & failure to understand & appreciate their reasons for their point of view. He was arrogant & lacked appreciation.

    Reply
  5. Ann   February 15, 2019 at 8:49 am

    Well maybe Ethan needs to get ALL of his vaccinations that he is behind on like sixty four shots and let’s see how spry Ethan feels. I for one am sick of this garbage and the horrendous HPV vaccine commercial I feel for this mother and I don’t know if I would be so gracious to my son making a buck off of what appeared to be some great parenting My children who are now unvaccinated grown men have never looked back at my decisions and thank me for not vaccinating them.I am blessed but my heart goes out to Ms Wheeler.

    Reply
  6. CAWS   February 15, 2019 at 9:20 am

    Since Nathan is getting “caught up” by getting multiple vaccines in short period of time I wonder what side effects he will suffer. A 40 yr old I know has suffered from severe depression after getting a battery of shots to travel abroad. The most claims being paid out by VAERS now are for adult flu shot reactions. Autism is not the only thing that can happen & not likely at his age but encephalitis, Bells palsy, Gillian Barre,flaccid paralysis, asthma,allergies,depression ;all possibilities. Bet his “research” did not include reading the actual ingredients that the CDC admits to on Vaccine Media & Excipients Summary or the actual product package inserts that not only warn of possible side effects including death but that they have never been tested for mutation of cells, cancer risks or destroying fertility . Add that to what they don’t admit to which is the fact that it has recently been proven that all vaccines are contaminated with cancer causing Glyphosate, no one has died in a decade from measles but 94 have died from the shot [MMR has 5X the Roundup in it than all the others],and all of the “settled science” now has whistle blowers admitting that the tests were manipulated to get the desired results.

    Reply
  7. INGRID C DURDEN   February 15, 2019 at 10:13 am

    He is now 18. He can get all 72 shots if he wants to ! Oh happy day !
    I just hope he does not end up dead, invalid, crippled, throwing up all over the place because of all the poison he is getting.
    And yes, a media stunt it could well be. It would not be the first time that Big Pharma, read, Big Money, puts one up.
    Poor young man, he is a chess piece in their game and probably does not even realize it.
    He has not thought how he got to be 18 and did NOT die of any of the sicknesses he did not get vaccinated for. He has not thought, how he got saved from all the mercury, aluminum, foetus, pig and monkey tissue that did not get injected into his body.
    I read just a few weeks ago, how more people die of the vaccinations, than of the sicknesses they get vaccinated for.

    Reply
  8. Colorado   February 15, 2019 at 10:15 am

    A quote from David Knight from Infowars in his return broadcast early 2019. A man goes to the doctor, and expresses concerns about the various treatment options. The doctor says; ‘I see you’ve been visiting Dr Google’. The man responds; ‘There is a lot of new information and studies on this matter. It’s important at least one of us has read them.’ / I mean seriously, who cares what some young pup with no medical background, or the fake news for sale corporate media has to say. If we need valid health information, the very last place we turn to is the government. Mr Trump, where is the vaccine counsel as promised? Now we’ve got to stop 5g systems as well which in case you’re blissfully unaware, are about to be rolled out with hundreds of thousands of high frequency towers everywhere along with thousands of satellites which will cook us all like turkeys in an oven from above. What a health nightmare this new century is turning out to be. Not only have we refused to vaccinate, we have also become very aware of food fraud, gmo and organic issues, we’ve kept wireless out of our house. People whom are concerned about the safety of vaccines should naturally also be concerned about wireless dangers and food fraud. These corporations and their pundits live in bubbles, their safety testing is inadequate on all fronts. On all sides we are dealing with irresponsible corporations and the mechanisms of government are no longer effective at protecting the public, watchdog groups are no longer on the hill with effective standing like they used to be. Vote with your wallet, get as many form of toxins as possible out of your life, better living WITHOUT chemicals. How in gods name did the human race survive tens and hundreds of thousands of years without all this ‘science’ floating around? In the progressive race to ‘progress’, you’ve got to be careful what you wish for. We don’t have to be experts to make a logical choice which is to simply opt out of all of it.

    Reply
  9. Hannah   February 15, 2019 at 11:43 am

    How did the media get a hold of this? Why so pubic? I agree that this looks like a PR stunt.

    Reply
  10. janet   February 15, 2019 at 4:00 pm

    COLORADO—-YOU ARE SO GOOD AT WRITING YOUR COMMON SENSE ARTICLE. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  11. ellie   February 16, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Did Ethan get 18 years’ worth of vaccines at once??? Good grief! Time will tell…

    There will soon be a huge generation of grown children with vaccine injuries who sue their parents who DID CHOOSE to vaccinate them!!!

    Reply
    • Ann   February 17, 2019 at 8:26 am

      Way past time for Ethan to roll up his sleeves and pants cause he will need all four limbs to “catch up” and show us the needles going in Otherwise I have been convinced another plot by the media and pro vac folks as there is nothing they want stoop to.

      Reply
  12. Constance Freeman   February 16, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Thanks to Colorado. So well put. I, too have no wireless in my home and I opted-out of the electrical smart meter. God help us all if we go to 5G, and what’s after that? We’re all going to glow in the dark. I’m in my 70’s and my grandparents who were born in the 1800’s were never exposed to these levels of toxins. The body can only take so much. Everyone has their breaking point, hence the rise in autoimmune, autism, etc. It’s the bleeding body in the street: nothing will be done until it can no longer be ignored.

    Reply
  13. Lowell   February 17, 2019 at 1:24 am

    I would submit this Robert Scott Bell video interview with Ethan’s mother in that I do not believe she is fake, Surely she doesn’t appear to be at all. As for Ethan that situation is questionable and as obviously he did not get as far as he did on this major media journey had the pro-vax powers that be latching directly onto him as their mascot.

    Special Guest – Jill Wheeler – Mother of Ohio Teen Who Got Vaccinated Against Her Wishes
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-sbvGgK48A&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR07XeVdzmfxhLuoCpiR82HfcNn-QA2PpZx5bRrATymhz1IbSAK7Ea99REw

    Reply
  14. Lowell   February 17, 2019 at 1:30 am

    Ethan only received two vaccines, the MMR and the flu vaccine. I have challenged him on his facebook page to get caught up on all the vaccines he has missed and to include the Gardasil 9, and to provide the screenshot evidence of his vaccine record; better yet videotape the whole thing.

    If he Ethan is going to be pro-vaccine and at the world media level that he has been in the promoting of vaccines as safe and effective, and that also in the numbers that they are given on the current 2019 CDC vaccine schedule; then Ethan now needs to personally PROVE that outcome himself. This is not and should not be allowed to be a one time claim of having now been MMR and flu vaccinated, and then he is simply allowed to walk away from it all. I would suggest as well that prior to getting all those vaccines on a catch-up schedule, that Ethan first reviews all of the vaccine ingredients, as for each vaccine he is getting. I hope he is up for it?

    Reply
  15. Constance Freeman   February 17, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks Lowell. Even if Ethan does get all the vaccines on the schedule that he was supposed to receive a a child, he may be one of those who doesn’t react. I pray that he stays well, but who knows. In the end, it proves nothing. It doesn’t disprove that there are so many others who have been injured, as evidenced by the over 4 billion paid out in the Vaccine Injury Court. Who can defend that? Those are the facts. All the distractions and personal attacks on parents and others don’t change those facts. Period. You can’t say that vaccinations don’t injure and kill people, and yet see that billions are being spent to in some way compensate those individuals.

    Reply

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